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#406634 - 08/13/12 12:18 AM Advice about friendship please
theIrregular Offline


Registered: 07/23/12
Posts: 52
Loc: Canada
I need advice about something. If you are not up to reading a whole lot, find the italicized text towards the end of this post.

Last night I was just cruising around in my car when I came across two women(lets call them C and M) who were trying to hitchhike. I gave them a ride because M was holding a crutch and it was pretty late.

They struck up a conversation (and I tried to tag along in the conversation - I'm shy towards women) and I quickly found out M was hurt as a result of sexual abuse by her uncle. I was surprised she was so forthcoming about it and when I remarked how emotionally free she must feel to confide in a stranger, she said alcohol helped. She said, 'If you asked me how I got hurt when I wasn't drunk, I would have lied and said I had a car accident or something'.

What are the chances! I do something I never did before in my life - stop for strangers at midnight, that too women. And one of them and I share similar scars. I'm almost tempted to say things happen for a reason - but then again, if I were to believe that, then I would also have to believe that I was abused for a reason..and that simply will not do.

Anyways, during the ride I got the courage to tell(babbled, rather) her I was abused as well when I was 10 and still dealing with issues resulting from it. I've never actually told anyone in person that I was abused and I've never actually met anyone in person, until her.

She said she was in a bad place in her life too and she gave me her number. She said 'call me, we don't have to date, if you don't want to..we could just be friends, who talk to each other about our experiences.' I said I would give her a call and we parted ways.

I have never had a girlfriend, haven't had someone I could call a friend in 10 years, have always been shy towards women(was surprised at myself that I talked to these two women), felt like an outsider throughout most of my life. I'm unemployed (without a career) and my life's at a low point, which can also be said about my confidence. I told M all this and she was understanding and said she was in more or less the same boat.

Today, C called me and asked me out to drinks. I lied and said I couldn't because I had to get up early in the morning.

I feel like the loser kid who has been invited to join the cool kids posse (sorry about the stereotypes. I'm 26, but the high school analogy still applies I think). And I'm just afraid that they are, in reality, laughing behind my back or are waiting to pull the perfect prank on me. Is this just the abuse-related mistrust talking? I want to believe that people don't take advantage of other people, but my abuse taught me very well that such a world doesn't exist.

It just angries me that some people have a really easy time establishing friendships and here I am stuck, thinking too much because I have to be careful. Why can't I just trust them? They seem like geniune people. I feel so vulnerable. I don't think I can forgive myself if it turned out that they were using me (pretending to befriend me) because they need someone to drive them around. I haven't had a friend in such a long time that I immediately get self-conscious around people, always wearing the mask.

Please, give me any advice you can about making friends when you feel like they may betray you or when you feel like you are not worthy.

On another note, I RSVPed to attend a support group. Hopefully, I won't chicken out in the meantime - it happens in a week. It will be my first ever. I'm really scared about that too.
_________________________
theIrregular

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#406644 - 08/13/12 05:18 AM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2024
Loc: durham, north england
To be perfectly honest I'd just forget about the fact that either of these two ladies is female and treat them as friends. I have never had a girlfriend, and the hole relationship and dating thing for me is a giant mess, but most of my friends are! female, simply because I have interests such as light opera that attracts more women than men for some reason, and that's how I meet a lot of friends.

So, forget the "female" part and just treat these two ladies as friends.

As to the misstrust thing, I'd advise you just to go along, take this as it sounds. yes, some people are scumbags, but some aren't, and ultimately building a friendship takes trust on both sides. These two ladies had to trust you to get into a car with you, so return a little of that. Perhaps you could meet at a neutral location, a cafe, a bar and not your house, and if your concerned about driving, meet somewhere within walking distance or say you are leaving the car so that you can have a drink.

Friendship comes from conversation, and conversation is something anyone can learn through practice, particularly if you are practicing with someone sympathetic.

i really hope this works out and you get the good friends out of it that you deserve.

Luke.

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#406655 - 08/13/12 08:55 AM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
DannyT Offline
Member

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 402
I think it's useful to remember that you have survived and are strong. The fear is the result of a past trauma. You're afraid of reliving that pain.

Fortunately, THAT bad stuff isn't going to happen again.

Even if you do get hurt by somebody in the future (we all do at times). It won't ever be THAT HURT again. That's the past.

And, you survived that past. It wasn't strong enough to beat you.

So now you get to make friends knowing that the worst possible thing is in the past. Only better is in store!

You're OK. You survived. You're strong. You can have friends and have a great time. You can have friends and sometimes they'll hurt you, too. And you know what? That's OK. Friendship isn't a 100% perfect system.

But you're a survivor. You've got guts and strength and courage, too. Plenty.

You can be vulnerable (we all are in friendship), and you can be guarded (we all are this, too, at times in friendship). It's all OK. Don't expect to be perfect (none of us are). Just know you have the strength to be OK.

I hope that's helpful.

Danny

ps: you may think that because I don't know you, I'm just not seeing the truth. After all, you just said you're scared. Being scared doesn't make you weak. It's how you handle the fear that makes changes come your way. And look at what you're doing? You're making new connections, two new women who want to be friends with you; you're reaching out to a support group. These are great steps that take courage. Keep watering the courage and it will grow and grow.

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#406669 - 08/13/12 11:55 AM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
Country Offline


Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 642
Loc: Alabama
Great reply and advice DannyT.
_________________________
Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

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#406796 - 08/14/12 12:04 PM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
chambers Offline


Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 118
Loc: VA
The truth is you're just having to risk getting hurt to make meaningful connections. You don't have to put yourself totally out there and disclose your abuse, I wouldn't, but it seems you may have found someone who can empathize with you. I have not had any real friends in a long time either and I just started putting myself out there not too long ago. I've started dating again and got burned a few times in a couple months already, it hurts but it should pay off when you find the right person or friend. I'm sorry but I don't really have good advice for trusting people because I don't. I'm trying to just give them a chance to earn my trust, go out and give it a shot, it's better than wondering what if.

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#406798 - 08/14/12 12:41 PM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
Magellan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/31/10
Posts: 1437
Loc: California
Hi theIrregular,

Wow, what a post and question. And what magnificent replies you've received already! I, too, spent many years thinking I was stupid or autistic because making friendships was impossibly hard and so ridiculously easy for everyone else.

In my search for answers, I came across an inspirational speaker at an event and I challenged him to help me find a way to start trusting other people so that I could start developing friendships.

His response surprised me. He said "People are untrustworthy. They will always eventually fail you. What you want is to learn how to trust yourself and take risks with others."

That was the first time someone ever put it that way for me. I've heard other similar things in the past (love yourself, follow your heart, be your own best friend) and I was frankly sick and tired of hearing other people telling me that.

But that is the truth of the matter. People will always eventually fail and disappoint.

I'm choosing to learn how to trust myself now. In doing this, I am starting to experience a sense of self power. As I learn to trust and love myself, a new sense of presence and relationship with others has started to emerge. It's very different and ripe with new possibilities.

I'm not sure if I answered your question. I wanted to reply what I did because I spent many years asking the very exact question you did, and many times people told me that I needed to learn how to love and trust myself. I couldn't hear them. But I heard "trust yourself; take risks with others".

I hope that gave you some insight.

D

Originally Posted By: theIrregular
I need advice about something. If you are not up to reading a whole lot, find the italicized text towards the end of this post.

Last night I was just cruising around in my car when I came across two women(lets call them C and M) who were trying to hitchhike. I gave them a ride because M was holding a crutch and it was pretty late.

They struck up a conversation (and I tried to tag along in the conversation - I'm shy towards women) and I quickly found out M was hurt as a result of sexual abuse by her uncle. I was surprised she was so forthcoming about it and when I remarked how emotionally free she must feel to confide in a stranger, she said alcohol helped. She said, 'If you asked me how I got hurt when I wasn't drunk, I would have lied and said I had a car accident or something'.

What are the chances! I do something I never did before in my life - stop for strangers at midnight, that too women. And one of them and I share similar scars. I'm almost tempted to say things happen for a reason - but then again, if I were to believe that, then I would also have to believe that I was abused for a reason..and that simply will not do.

Anyways, during the ride I got the courage to tell(babbled, rather) her I was abused as well when I was 10 and still dealing with issues resulting from it. I've never actually told anyone in person that I was abused and I've never actually met anyone in person, until her.

She said she was in a bad place in her life too and she gave me her number. She said 'call me, we don't have to date, if you don't want to..we could just be friends, who talk to each other about our experiences.' I said I would give her a call and we parted ways.

I have never had a girlfriend, haven't had someone I could call a friend in 10 years, have always been shy towards women(was surprised at myself that I talked to these two women), felt like an outsider throughout most of my life. I'm unemployed (without a career) and my life's at a low point, which can also be said about my confidence. I told M all this and she was understanding and said she was in more or less the same boat.

Today, C called me and asked me out to drinks. I lied and said I couldn't because I had to get up early in the morning.

I feel like the loser kid who has been invited to join the cool kids posse (sorry about the stereotypes. I'm 26, but the high school analogy still applies I think). And I'm just afraid that they are, in reality, laughing behind my back or are waiting to pull the perfect prank on me. Is this just the abuse-related mistrust talking? I want to believe that people don't take advantage of other people, but my abuse taught me very well that such a world doesn't exist.

It just angries me that some people have a really easy time establishing friendships and here I am stuck, thinking too much because I have to be careful. Why can't I just trust them? They seem like geniune people. I feel so vulnerable. I don't think I can forgive myself if it turned out that they were using me (pretending to befriend me) because they need someone to drive them around. I haven't had a friend in such a long time that I immediately get self-conscious around people, always wearing the mask.

Please, give me any advice you can about making friends when you feel like they may betray you or when you feel like you are not worthy.

On another note, I RSVPed to attend a support group. Hopefully, I won't chicken out in the meantime - it happens in a week. It will be my first ever. I'm really scared about that too.

_________________________
If I'm acting despondent, Please ask me if I'm eating sugar. I keep forgetting sugar makes me crazy.

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#406854 - 08/14/12 10:24 PM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
Anomalous Offline
Greeter Coordinator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 1354
Hi TheIrregular,

It is understandable that you would not have trust in others. It has been proven to you time and again that others are untrustworthy.

But not everyone fits into that category.

You took a big risk the other night, both in choosing to give a ride to those women and in making a disclosure.

It was made clear to you that she isn't looking to date, she is looking for a friend. The fact that the two of you share similar experiences and that she found you to be a kind person, prompted her to extend her hand in friendship.

Like others have suggested, meet in a neutral place. Until you are more comfortable with others (whomever they may be), you will want to keep your home your safe place.

I think you are jumping the gun when you say:

Quote:

I don't think I can forgive myself if it turned out that they were using me (pretending to befriend me) because they need someone to drive them around.


If you establish boundaries from the beginning (ie. refusing to be their transportation) then you will not be in a position to feel or be used.

Should you choose to meet for drinks, either make the meeting place within walking distance, or take public transportation. Your reasoning of not wanting to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol is cogent.

Those women may want a friend as much as you do. They may be looking for friendship with someone they sense is a kind person and to whom they can relate.

You have those qualities, and so many more.

The conversations you have do not have to be only about trauma issues, or about trauma issues at all. I am sure you will find that you have a lot of common interests.

The nice thing about this is there is no pressure. You are just getting to know a couple of people looking for friendship. No expectations, no demands. Just a few people who happened to meet one rainy night.

If you approach this from the perspective that you really do not have anything to lose, and perhaps a lot to gain, it may help take some of the anxiety out of the situation.

It is difficult to reach out to others when one is self conscious and when one does not feel worthy. The truth is, a lot of people are self conscious and anxious when they meet people. You will not be anxiety free when you meet with people (whether it is with these women or with others), the endeavor is to push past the anxiety and go through with meeting the women.

The level of self consciousness will start to decrease as you gain experience in meeting others. We often think we need to be rid of the anxiety and self doubt in order to meet others. Actually, it is the other way around. As one gains experience meeting others, one gains confidence and the self doubt and anxiety start to decrease.

It takes a lot of effort to force one's self into social situations, especially after isolating for a long time. But it can be done.

Just as you signed up for the support group and you will be pushing yourself through your anxiety to attend, you will do the same for social situations.

I applaud your courage for signing up for the support group and for considering meeting these women.

I know you can do this.

I hope you know you can do this, too.





Anomalous
_________________________
Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.

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#406856 - 08/14/12 10:40 PM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
Country Offline


Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 642
Loc: Alabama
Anomalous , great reply and post. Are you a therapist trapped in a survivors body? You are a great poster. Thanks bro
_________________________
Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Top
#406870 - 08/15/12 02:34 AM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
theIrregular Offline


Registered: 07/23/12
Posts: 52
Loc: Canada
Thank you all for the outstanding encouragement. I am, as always, grateful for your kind words.

Unfortunately, my fear, shame and avoidant(flee when uncomfortable) traits were enough to negate all of what you said.

In two days, I went from calling them and accepting their friendship to calling them back and apologizing because I actually am too afraid to have any relationship right now (not even friendship). I guess, along the way, I've grown to attach expectations to friendship as well and all I could think the whole two days was how I wouldn't be able to fulfill those expectations for them.

I don't think I realized until now, how much shame I still have in my system. Anyways, once I called it off, acceptance seemed so much easier to achieve. I just kept thinking to myself.."You are looking for acceptance! If you can't accept yourself, how can you expect others to?" For the first time, self-acceptance seems achievable.

But I wonder if I'm falling into a thought trap: ...I will never find self-acceptance until I realize that what happened to me was not my fault and the mistakes I made were the result of my inadequate coping techniques. I won't realize the above until I talk to someone else who has gone through something similar. And I can't talk to someone because I can't accept myself and so it would be foolish to expect someone else to accept me (i.e., by entrusting them with what my past).

I don't regret acting on my fear because I see it as a stepping stone in my recovery..It was the first time I ever stepped outside my comfort zone. And I still plan on attending the support group.

But, I feel like I've let you all down. I don't regret the decision because I just felt a whole lot lighter afterwards (like I don't have fulfill obligations to anyone but myself). But then again, I do feel guilty because I'm sure most of our brethren here on MS would kill for such an opportunity (to meet such understanding people in person)..and here I am squandering it away because I'm too scared.
_________________________
theIrregular

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#406883 - 08/15/12 09:42 AM Re: Advice about friendship please [Re: theIrregular]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3509
Loc: somewhere in Africa
please don't worry about letting anyone else down.
with our track records, nobody here has the right to judge you.
what's most important is that you do what is right for you.
if it is taking a chance - then go for it.
if it is keeping yourself safe - then take care, and don't feel guilty about it.
this is not the end of the story.
there will be other opportunities.

Lee
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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